[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 7 of 11] Sinat Chinam (and Ahavat Chinam)

Five years ago, we went to תל אביב for an Israeli resources fair (an unexpected itinerary change), went to the שוק (market), and also יד ושם (the Holocaust memorial). The original journal entry is clickable: this sentence.

As I mentioned yesterday, today’s blog post will be a bit of a heavy topic: שנאת חינם (sinat chinam: baseless hatred). Unfortunately, it seemed that the Holocaust (and World War II for that matter) was grounded in baseless hatred. Thus, I want to reflect on it, as well as thinking about what I saw in the museum five years ago.

A look at the exterior of the Yad Vashem museum.

A look at the exterior of the Yad Vashem museum.

Reflecting on my notes from Eliezer’s story, the first thing which struck me from now is the fact that Eliezer had a prosperous family in Poland. Therefore, it seems that one of the Seven Deadly Sins committed by the Nazis in this case was Jealousy, which, although it “seems” justified, is not a reasonable basis for hate.

His story is an amazing sense of survival (see the original blog post), and really shows what people go through when they are the targets of baseless hatred. This time of the year in the Jewish calendar is the “Three Weeks” between שבעה-עשר תמוז ותשעה באב (i.e. 17 Tammuz and 9 Av), and it is said that the Temples were destroyed as a result of immorality and baseless hatred, both within and without.

Eliezer, the then-80-year-old Holocaust survivor, that we heard at Yad Vashem. (יום הולדת שמח, ועד מאה ועשרים!)

Eliezer, the then-80-year-old Holocaust survivor, that we heard at Yad Vashem. (יום הולדת שמח, ועד מאה ועשרים!)

The stories that I heard at Yad Vashem reflect a lot of baseless hatred that takes place in modern society. Just look at some of the following things that are salient in the news today and years since 2011:

  • The well-documented police brutality against Blacks and others
  • The distrust of police around the horn, including attacks on police
  • The xenophobia of others, particularly Muslims and Mexicans, in the States by some politicians
  • Rocket attacks by Hamas into Israel
  • Brutality of IDF soldiers against everyday Palestinians at checkpoints
  • Attacks in Paris, Turkey, Munich, etc.
  • Attacks against the LGBTQ population

All of these have baseless hatred as their basis. The atrocities are all committed against people who are “different” from the ones who hate. Whatever the reason for the hate and the killing, it is wrong!

I have never been very outspoken against hatred, but after being inundated in bad news these last few weeks, I am gaining more of a voice in speaking out against them. Hatred only begets hatred, and once the whole world hates each other, World War III would not be far away, and with the advances in technology, it would be very bloody. If we forget history, we are doomed to repeat it.


Left: The top part of an hourglass is almost bereft of sand. A “Jude” star is covered in the bottom part of the glass. Right: “Warning! A generation is going to disappear.”

I feel that it is not too late to reverse the course. Here are some things that I think we need to do:

  • Talk out your fears with others that you know in safe spaces. Fear is often a precursor to baseless hatred.
  • Talk to people in power, and get them to see the humanity in all.
  • Write down your thoughts and discuss them.
  • Set aside preconceptions and get to know people of different races and creeds. Most people are very reasonable and willing to make acquaintances and friends in a peaceful way!
  • Along with the last bullet point, KEEP AN OPEN MIND! Strangers could be best friends that we have not yet met!
    • However, don’t throw caution to the wind–remember See Something/Say Something. (But don’t jump to conclusions!)
  • Critically evaluate what traditional media is telling us. It blows things way out of proportion much of the time, in order to sensationalize.
    • Critical thinking is… critical to making a difference!

Growing up as a Jew, I have learned a lot about our history that has left us with targets on our backs. But our response has been love and a commitment to הלכה (Jewish law). There IS something to be said for turning the other cheek, and offering אהבת חינם (baseless love).

And although there was complicity in WWII, there were many cases of non-Jewish people speaking out against, or protecting, the vulnerable. For example, Oskar Schindler or Arnold Douwes. Their names, among many others, are permanently immortalized on the Path of the Righteous.

Arnold Douwes, a "Righteous of the Nations" from Holland.

A plaque dedicated to Arnold Douwes, a “Righteous of the Nations” from Holland.

A plaque dedicated to the Schindlers (of Schindler's List).

A plaque dedicated to the Schindlers (of Schindler’s List).

And to further this and end the post on a positive note, here are some things that I have done in the last few years to spread love:

  • Attending an Israel peace rally
  • Supported LGBTQ causes indirectly through Facebook posts, talking with my LGBTQ friends, and keeping an open mind.
  • Listening to interfaith dialogues between Jews, Christians, Muslims, and others
  • Attending Black Lives Matter peaceful protests
  • Discussing these issues with friends, family, and via other venues.
  • Opening my mind to talking with strangers

You can make a difference in spreading baseless love. It’s not that difficult–so go and do it!

The remainder of the blog posts on Israel should hopefully be lighter-hearted. Tomorrow, I plan on reflecting on time through the story of the Negev.


Check out the remaining entries in this sequence!

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective] The Travel To Israel

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 2 of 11] Achim Simcha

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 3 of 11] Take a hike!

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 4 of 11] A Shabbat in Israel

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 5 of 11] Awwwwwesome

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 6 of 11] Primary Sources

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective-part 7 of 11] Sinat Chinam (and Ahavat Chinam) [You are here!]

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective part 8 of 11] Coming soon!

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective part 9 of 11] Coming soon!

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective part 10 of 11] Coming soon!

[Taglit 5-Year Retrospective part 11 of 11] Coming soon!


Kenosha: 6 days.

Orientation: 20 days.

Day 1 at Carthage: 43 days.

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